The Ransom Center Galleries will be open during Labor Day weekend, including on Monday, September 7.
The galleries will be open from noon to 5 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday, with free docent-led exhibition tours at noon and 2 p.m. On Labor Day, the galleries are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a tour at noon. Tours meet in the lobby, and no reservations are required. Read more
Frida Kahlo’s Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird and Still Life with Parrot and Fruit, from the Harry Ransom Center’s Nickolas Muray collection of Mexican art, are currently on view at the New York Botanical Garden’s exhibition Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life. Running through November 1, the exhibition Read more
The Harry Ransom Center supports an active program of loans from its collections, balancing the task of preparing and processing materials for loan with its own exhibition program. The loans, which share the Center’s collections with a wider audience, are considered on the basis of their merit and contribution to the humanities.
Last year, more than 135 items were loaned to 16 institutions, placing the Ransom Center’s holdings in context with other collections throughout the U.S. and internationally.
One of the Center’s most recent loans is a nearly complete set of the photographs Walker Evans made for Read more
Galit Marmor-Lavie is a professor at The University of Texas at Austin’s Moody College of Communication. This semester she brought students in her undergraduate Advertising and Popular Culture class, offered at the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations, to the Ransom Center’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland exhibition. Below, she explains the project that was inspired by the exhibition and what drew her to use the Ransom Center as a resource.
The exhibition Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland features two 1933 toy paper film strips called Movie Jecktors. The film strips portray two of the most memorable parts of the Alice story: “Down the Rabbit Hole” and “The Mad Hatter.” Images and text are printed in three colors on 35″ strips of translucent paper. The strips are rolled onto wooden dowels and stored in colorfully printed little boxes. The Movie Jecktors would have been used with a toy film projector to create a simple animation.
The Ransom Center’s Movie Jecktors required conservation before they could be safely displayed in the galleries. Both the wooden dowel and the storage box, which is made of wood pulp cardboard, had a high acid content. An acidic environment is harmful to paper. The Movie Jecktors had become brittle and discolored, and there were many tears and losses to the paper. The film strips had been repaired in the past with pressure-sensitive tapes (the common tape we all use to wrap gifts). These tapes are never appropriate for repairing paper that we hope to preserve because they deteriorate and often darken over time and are also difficult to remove once in place.
As the Ransom Center’s paper conservator, I removed the tapes using a heated tool and reduced the residual adhesive using a crepe eraser. I mended the tears and filled the losses using Japanese paper and wheat starch paste. For the fills, the Japanese paper was pre-toned with acrylic paint to allow these additions to blend with the original paper. Areas of ink loss were not recreated.
Visitors to the exhibition can see the areas of the filmstrips that were damaged, but those areas are now stabilized and less distracting. This kind of treatment reflects the practice of conservation to preserve, but not “restore,” the object’s original appearance. Libraries, archives, and museums today often choose the conservation approach because it allows researchers and other visitors a better understanding of the object’s history, including damages that occurred, which may speak to the materials used in the object’s creation.